OTTOMAN in the MOREA in the OUTER MANI 1st.
Most of the emigrant Greeks do not know information that would concern the Greek History and for that aim will materialise one continuity of article presentation of historical data, or in Greek or in the English that will be checked with regard to their validity. Thus portal Online Magazine of Apodimos.com (that is not information of daily news,) it will present to you historical information on the Ottoman domination in Mani and presents as the Turkish military and officials in Mani and we give information for the Mani - a separate society? And also for their economy. We thank zorbas.de for the information’s, which give us from their work to transferring theirs to world around Greek emigrants.
The TOURKOKRATIA and the MANI
In the immediate aftermath of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and Mistra in 1460 the Morea was thrown into confusion. Although Byzantine rule was over the initial Ottoman hold was fragile and the existence of a patchwork of Venetian coastal territories only added to the instability of the area. Each faction used local soldiery on a mercenary basis, paying them on a particularly sporadic basis with coin and grain. The mounted troops, usually Greeks or Albanians were called 'stratioti' and served under 'capi' or Captains. These were often clan or family leaders. Due to the tenuous nature of contracts and the elusiveness of pay these relatively small bands of soldiery switched sides and often turned to banditry starting a tradition which bedevilled the Greek countryside until the end of the nineteenth century.
The Kladas revolt.
The Venetians continued to hold Korone and Methone and Nauplion in the Morea. They also appointed a series of 'rettori' or governors to Mani, especially during the exhausting Venetian-Ottoman War of 1463-1478, and assumed possession of the peninsula. When Mehmet the Conqueror invaded the Peloponnese in the late 1450s he had met some resistance but had pragmatically offered those who submitted to Ottoman rule a continuance of their local power and influence. The Kladas clan were important 'Capi' in the Outer Mani and they were described as 'Reis' or 'Capo' of Zygos - an area somewhat contiguous with the present day 'dimos' of Lefktron. The family had a long history of importance in southern Morea and also had a presemce on the Elos plain in Lakonia on the eastern side of the Taygetos. Although the Kladas family submitted to Mehmet, and in reward were given the castle of Vardounia and the territories it commanded, they soon switched sides to the Venetians and placed Vardounia and possibly parts of the Outer Mani under the rule of the Serenissima on the condition that they ran the area. They were highly praised by the contemporary Venetian commentator and Provveditor of the Morea, Jacomo Barbarigo along the following lines, «The brave ser Manoli Kladas and Krokondilos his brother...are indeed the most loyal servants of Your Signoria. They have never made excuse of weariness or of any danger, and they continue to hold the castle of Vordounia, near Mistra, the key to the Mani. They have lost all their relatives in Your Signoria's service, and have sustained every labour and loss in your name.».
The Kadas clan fought off a major attempt by the Ottomans to take Mani in 1477 and it was therefore more than slightly annoying to them when Venice, financially exhausted by the war with the Ottomans, sought a peace treaty with the Sublime Porte. Although Venice held on to Nauplion, Methone and Korone they had perforce to relinquish their claims to Mani and Vardounia thus putting Krokondilos Kladas' and other Greek Capi's noses strongly out of joint. Kladas and other bands of stratioti (at least four of which had the Palaiologos family name) took refuge at Korone where the Venetians attempted to placate their hurt pride and retain their services by means of pay and honours. This eventually came to nought.
On October 9 1480 Krokondilos Kladas and others rode out of Korone and had soon retaken large swathes of the Outer Mani from the Ottomans seizing the castles of Megalo Maini and Itilo. It was obvious that the Ottomans' had presumed that the conditions of the 'ahd-name' (truce or peace treaty) would be adhered to and had withdrawn many troops from the area leaving fortresses skimpily garrisoned. The Venetians tried to do a nifty piece of damage limitation by declaring Krokondilos an outlaw and putting a price of 10,000 ducats on his head. In their eyes he had not only committed treason but was jeopardising the entire peace treaty and the stabilty desperately needed in the area. The problem was that the Venetians had little in the way of troops themselves, save other bands of Stratioti who were of similar Greek or Albanian origin and therefore rarely enthusiastic in hunting down their own.
In the face of this blustering but inneffectual Venetian response and with a widening circle of districts of the Morea in open revolt Mehmet sent a Bey with a large force to quel the rebellion. They received a bloody defeat in February 1481 somewhere in the pass between Passavas and Itilo at the hands of Kladas' forces. A month later a much more impressive force under Ahmed Bey pushed Kladas further into deep Mani as far as Porto Quaglio (Porto Kaiyo) Here, and it is debatable whether it was fortuitous or planned, Kladas made rendevous with three galleys of Ferdinand, King of Naples and Sicily. There was an abortive rearguard attack on the Ottoman force before the galleys and Kladas escaped to Naples on 7 April 1481.
Some historians have seen fit to portray the Kladas episode as either the last gasp of Byzantine Greek resistance to the Ottomans or as the beginning of a glorious tradition of Mani and the Maniates as the constant thorn in the side of the Ottoman power in the Morea. In fact it was probably neither and modern constructs and ideas of nationalism and freedom fighters would have been incomprehensible to the 15th century protagonists. What we can observe is one waning Levantine power, Venice, and the crescent power in ascendant, the Ottoman Empire, disregarding local seigneurial sensibilities for the sake of diplomacy, economic stability and realpolitik. The aforementioned locals, not unsurprisingly taking advantage of the remoteness and harshness of the area, then reacted violently to get back their castles and fiefdoms. Indeed after serving various western masters as a mercenary Kladas returned from exile a few years later when things had quitened down and retook Vardounia castle. He was eventually killed in a battle at Monemvasia in 1490. His son continued to struggle to hold the area and seized Mani in the name of the Venetians - again, when Venice was forced to make peace with the Ottomans, Mani was handed back to the Sublime Porte in 1503. (Much of the above detail about the Kladas revolt is taken from Diana Wright's excellent and exhaustive study of the despatches of the Venetian Governor of Nauplion at this time. See Wright, Diana Gilliland, Bartolomeo Minio: Venetian Administration in 15th century Nauplion. EJOS, III, No. 5. Available as a downloadable pdf document from the EJOS site i.e.click here)
The Ottoman Centuries.
The Ottoman domination of the Balkans lasted for over 350 years and is still perceived by many Greeks as a time of shame and woe to the extent that it is only in the last few decades that serious academic studies of the time have been undertaken. Indeed the study of the period has recently preferred the term «Ottoman period » in an attempt to exclude the ethnic association with the Turks. Although run by Turkish rulers the Ottoman Empire was remarkably polyglot. It is true that the Ottomans were capricious, cruel and more often than not arbitrarily brutish in their attitudes to their subjects and that cultural life was, certainly in the earlier centuries, stifled. Greece, apart from the Ionian islands, Crete and some other far flung locations missed out on the High Renaissance (although it can be claimed that much of that which invigorated the Renaissance stemmed from Ancient Hellenic philosophy) and her isolation as part of the Ottoman Empire ensured that for the most part she was untouched by the Enlightenment as well.
That said there was an indifference in the Ottoman gaze which meant that as long as taxes and levies kept on coming in and various irksome formal divisions between Christian and Muslim were adhered to there was little fundamental interference in the day to day life of the ordinary people. If anything the Ottomans were eventually disliked most for the day to day tax, bureaucratic and over officious administrative burdens they imposed upon their polyglot empire. One has, however, to avoid the temptation of succumbing to 'orientalism' which portrays the Ottoman Empire in lurid and exotic detail concentrating on decadence and cruelty - as if the contemporary western states had not equally appalling features and ignoring the Ottomans' complex infrastructure which sustained the Empire for nearly four centuries.
Although some Turks did settle in Greece, a proportion of Greeks converted to Islam - it made life that much more convenient - and mosques dotted the landscape, the Orthodox Church maintained an uneasy truce with the Sublime Porte. The Patriarch of Constantinople was still the spiritual leader of the Greek people. In fact the power invested by the Turks on the Greek Patriarch in Constantinople under the system of the «Rum Millet» was such that the Patriarchs were often vehemently opposed to any insurrections against the Ottomans. The Rum Millet ('Millet' was derived from the Persian word for 'nation' and was the term used by the Turks to describe a religious group within their empire - Rum referred to the Greek term for themselves 'Romaio') ensured that the Orthodox church held its grip on the Balkans far more strongly than under the Byzantines. Although a number of Turkish words have entered the Greek language Greece's educational system, its ethos and beliefs remained the purlieu of the local orthodox Papas.
Turkish military and officials.
In large parts of mountainous Greece a continuous grumbling level of violence persisted. Brigandage and guerrilla warfare was endemic and the forays of foreign powers into the Peloponnese (mainly the Venetians but later on the Russians) tended to exacerbate the already volatile situation. Klephts - literally 'Thieves' - the descendants of the medieval 'stratioti', haunted the hills and mountains in irregular bands. To call them freedom fighters is an anachronistic misnomer for - at least in the earlier centuries - most were out and out bandits without even the vague excuse of fighting for the greater cause of Greek independence or irredentism.
To control these gangs the Turks raised local troops called Armatoli, although the use of this term would seem to have a looser meaning in the Morea than in Roumeli (northern Greece). More often than not the same individuals or groups would switch seamlessly from Klephtic Band to Armatoli and back again dependent on the local conditions and the whims of the local Pasha - many of whom were of Greek stock even though they had Turkish names. A background in Klephtic pursuits seems to have been no obstacle to later legitimate power (or vice versa). The very first Bey of Mani in the 1680s, was the 'former' pirate Lemperaki and many of the later "heroes" of the Greek War of Independence began their careers as cattle thieves. Unsurprisingly, with this level of incipient violence, not only was the Balkans an area of cultural stagnation but also of relative economic inefficiency and torpor.
Mani - a separate society?
In Mani things were subtly different. Although it is difficult to assess the Turkish presence in large parts of Greece due to the obliteration of all physical signs of them in the fury of the 1821 uprising, in Mani it would seem the Ottomans only ever managed to effect temporary military occupation and rarely seem to have been able to sustain a viable civilian infrastructure. The skills of the Melingi and Maniates in resisting Byzantine and Frankish domination was passed down through the generations and, with the Taygetus and Sangias mountains to defend and isolate them from the mass of the Peloponnese, Mani developed a distinct identity. It is important not to over-stress these differences. The Maniates were Greek and the external differences between them and a Greek under Turkish rule was small. As John Galt observed in the early 1800s the , «…dress of the men was pretty much like that of the common Greeks, but closer fitted and better calculated for efforts of activity».
It is during the Ottoman period that the distinctive Maniate urban landscape appeared. The towers (pyrgi, pyrgos is the singular) that rise like small Manhattan skylines above the villages of Mani and which punctuate the air with their bleak, often unwindowed starkness are relatively unique in Greek secular architecture though it is clear that such fortified dwellings were found in other parts of the Peloponnese dependent on the prevaling levels of violence in society. What is certain is that the proliferation of the towers and the vendetta based society which created and lived in them in Mani has few parallels in Mediterranean societies. The origins of the towers is still debated. We have little hard evidence of them and the societal structures which accompanied them from before the 17th century. Certainly by the 1670s when Evliya Celebi, the Turkish traveller and official visited Mani the Exo Mani was full of villages with houses which Evliya describes as, «like castles with loop-holes for windows.». Interestingly although he mentions these in nearly every village he visited in Outer Mani he fails to record the same architectural forms in Deep Mani where, today, their remains are far more prevalent.
There are similar towers in the remote Svaneti district of the Caucusus - generally dated to the middle ages, but there are no known links with Mani. One theory is that the idea for the towers was imported by returning Greek mercenaries from the 15th/16th century Italian wars where they would have come into contact with such similar architectural and societal structures as those at San Gimignano in Tuscany where some of the towers are still extant. What is certain is that such an unlawful and squabbling population would not have been tolerated by any strong central government and the Ottomans' sway over Mani was at best insecure and often completely absent. Therefore one can conceive of the Mani's war-tower society as being less a reaction to or defense against Turkish oppression and more as a consequence of the slack nature of the Ottoman power in the peninsula.
At various points in the next centuries the Turks would send forces into Mani in punitive raids and would attempt to levy taxes with mixed results. There are those who, rather romantically, think that Mani never paid any taxes and can point to Leake's report that before the Orlov rebellion of 1770 the Maniates were taxed, «…a nominal tribute of 15 purses, which they never paid. ». But it is clear that both Turkish and Venetian rulers drew up regular tax assessment registers and as Prof. Malcolm Wagstaff points out one doesn't keep on tax assessing if one's got little chance of collecting. Indeed Bernard Randolph writing in the 1680s reported that the Maniates agreed to pay a, «small Tribute» after the Turkish incursion of 1669. How draconian these tax demands were is more doubtful. Sir William Gell wrote of his visit to Kitries in 1804 when Antonbey Grigorakis was paying his taxes the following. «It seems that the Greek Bey is acknowledged by the Turks, under the name Andun or Andunah Bey… (the Turkish version of Antonis) …on condition that he should pay the annual tribute of thirty-five purses to the Porte.». Gell calculated that this amounted to the equivalent of 500 English Pounds. Even allowing for changes in the real value of sterling in the intervening two hundred years one cannot help but agree with Gell when he wrote, «This sum, divided among the hundred and seventeen towns and villages of Maina, could not be considered as any great burthen on the community. » .
The Turks also settled large numbers of (mainly) Muslim Albanians in the area known as Vardounia (or Bardounia) just north of Passavas on the south eastern flanks of the Taygetus as a sort of 'cordon sanitaire' around Mani. The raids, both from Turks and pirates, and the general decline in economic conditions meant that in the late 17th century many Maniates migrated to other parts of the Mediterranean or further afield. Italy was a favoured destination as was Corsica, where the Itriani and Stephanopoli families from Itilo settled repectively. From these came the unverifiable claims that Mani families had links to the Medici and, even more unlikely, Napoleon Buonaparte could trace his lineage back to Maniate predecessors. The first Greek Orthodox church in Britain (in Soho Fields, London ) was founded by Maniate emigrants, led by the priest Daniel Voulgaris in 1677 and a century later Maniates are recorded as being settled in Florida, in 1767 by a certain Dr. Andrew Turnbull, where there is still a large Greek community.
The two parts of the Mani developed slightly different styles of «self government».
In the North west Mani certain families began to dominate and the pattern of the Kapetani (or 'Captains' - a Venetian term) took root. For example during the seventeenth century the Mourtzinos-Troupakis clan (who had some claim to being heirs of the Byzantine Imperial Paleaologi family) began to dominate the area stretching inland from Kardamili, then called Androuvitsa. Other centres for the kapetani grew up around Kitries/Doli, Kastania, Platsa and Milia. Their fortified centres of power still exist although the evidence of incidence of pyrgi (towers) is nowadays less prevalent than in the Deep Mani - probably because in the nineteenth century they were more relaxed in complying with Greek government edicts to dismantle these warlike structures. Another reason was that clans and families in this area were endogamous. That is they intermarried with other families in the clan and rather like aristocracy everywhere made connections which ensured the longevity of their hegemony. The visible signs of this were the almost baronial castles the kapetani constructed for themselves. These would often incorporate a pyrgos but were large complexes rather than the individual towers of Kitta, Vathia and Lagia in Deep Mani. Probably the best remaining example is Pano Kardamili. Although there was inter village fighting in the Exo Mani there is little evidence of inter family fighting and therefore not every family needed its own fortress.
In the Mesa Mani there was a subtly different social order. Families still struggled for power but here they were exogamous, wives being chosen from other clans. Incest within the family was banned to the level of seventh cousins. Villages were divided into quarters or 'mahales' each dominated by a family or clan. Although there were no chieftains, as in the Outer Mani, there was a council of elders who would rule on feuds, or more often the truces called between warring families. The feuding between these was unremitting and vicious. The reasons for this are probably due to the overpopulation of an impoverished environment. It is noticeable that unlike most of the rest of Greece (there are other exeptions) there was no dowry system - land was too scarce to leave to the vagaries of marriage arrangements. Vendettas, ambushes, assassinations and on occasion a form of open warfare bedevilled Mani and especially the Deep Mani. As each family's war towers were often in extremely close proximity this took on a savagery best likened to the worst forms of trench raiding in the First World War.
So deeply rooted was the cult of the vendetta in Deep Mani that there was a constant grumbling level of violence. In the Maniate version of vengeance (oidikiomos) it was not necessary to kill the one who had offended one's family but instead it was quite common to choose another victim in order to better 'hurt' the opposing clan. The only exception to this 'collective' form of vengeance was in the case of slander where vengeance had to be meted out on the perpetrator. This open nature of the vendetta meant that it was rarely closed and could rumble on for years and indeed decades. There were ways of ending or mitigating the slaughter. 'Sinevgarma' was a truce brought about whilst the appointed victim was in the company of a stranger. The 'Fichiko' - or Truce of Forgiveness where a third party would get the injured party to forgive the offenders and The 'Agapi' where an outsider would intervene even if this was not requested by the warring parties. Part of the problem was the deep superstitions regarding the dead - the Maniates believed that, if not revenged, the spirit of the dead would return to haunt their own family. The only ones seemingly immune from this constant bloodshedding were priests and doctors - both of whom were too useful to eliminate. Male children were dubbed 'guns' - the women toiled in the fields and raised more 'guns' - they were not immune from the violence and were sometimes killed, if not deliberately then in the crossfire.
It is interesting that evidence from Morritt and Leake tends to point to a more pro-active role for women in the conflicts. Morritt mentions that in the late 18th century in the Exo Mani women were often active in inter-clan raids and were enthusiastic users of the fields set aside for target practise. Leake wrote, «The women carry ammunition for their husbands, and it is a point of honour not to shoot at them». He was also amused to find that the women could be as useful with a musket as their men. At Skutari he was challenged by the local chieftan Katzano's wife to put his hat at a spot some 150 yards distant and watch her hit it with a musket ball. As Leake only had the one hat and the lady sported two wounds from battle the English agent sensibly took her at her word.
The whole role of women in such a seemingly male dominated society has not been explored from an historical perspective but Nadia Seremitakis' book «The Last Word» - on the social and psychological role of women in recent Deep Maniate society is recommended as a guide to this complex area of study.
Many of the western commentators on Mani in the early nineteeth century point to the fact that whereas the Maniates would work together at the time of external threat they were inclined to civil strife if left to their own devices. As John Galt commented in 1812, «They make war, continually, with each other, chief against chief, but whenever the Turks threaten with subjugation they firmly unite. ». Leake had a slightly different slant on this. He talked at length with the Turkish Kapitan Pasha, Hassan Pasha, in 1805 at his base in Monemvasia - as Leake reported…«It seldom happened, he says, that when he wished to destroy a village, he could not find some neighbouring village to assist him in the work, and generally under the guidance of a priest, on condition of his having the stones of the ruins as a perquisite. » . Indeed the main purpose of the internicine warfare appears to have been to destroy the others' towers and raise them to the ground. Like other vendetta dominated societies, such as Corsica, the conflict was run on unwritten but rigid rules which soon lost any original significance and became self perpetuating ritual.
The society in the major Mesa Mani settlements were also divided between the Nikliani and the Ahamnomeri. The Nikliani were the rulers could build tower houses and made the running. The derivation of their name is unsure but there is a contested theory that it is derived from the town of Nikli (near present day Tripoli in the central Peloponnese). Nikli was mostly destroyed by the Turks in the 1400s and the inhabitants could have taken refuge in the Deep Mani. They would have brought with them their overtones of feudalism from the Frankish period and replicated this in Mani with divisive and violent results. The Ahamnomeri were, if not exactly in strict feudalistic terms - they paid no rent for example - the serfs of the Nikliani. They were forbidden to build dwellings over two stories high and were subservient to the Nikliani. But there was no inherent rigidity in the system and families and individuals could rise and fall between the two strata.
Wagstaff and many others are sceptical of the Nikli refugees explanation believing that the development of the clan based-tower dominated Mani settlement patterns was more organic and really only took strong hold in the 17th and 18th centuries when there was a natural rise in the population. There is in fact little evidence of large influxes of population into Mani and any slight shift in population may have been as localised as people leaving the Malevri district (between Kelefa and Githeon) for the Mesa Mani. Indeed the main use of Mani as a 'refuge' was by the Klephtic bands who would temporarily use the area as a safe haven and then return to the central Morea.
These societal patterns were not exclusively divided along the Exo/Mesa Mani border. This has only been a loose delineation changing throughout the centuries and Langada in exo Mani had distinct family areas within the same village rather like Kitta in the deep south. Areopolis (or as it was called until the 1830s, Tsimova) was gradually dominated by the Mavromichalis clan from their base at Limeni and when Leake visited it in 1805 he found the locals made a clear distinction between themselves and the inhabitants further south in the Mesa Mani. Part of the problem, certainly in Deep Mani, was the overpopulation of the area. Foreign observers wondered at the number of villages in Mani which was in direct contradiction of the surrounding paucity of natural resources and Wagstaff has pointed out that there was, slightly surprisingly, a far lower rate of settlement desertion in Mani than for the Peloponnese as a whole.
A map of Mani in the late 17th century from Bernard Randolph's The Present State of the Morea 1689